A gay man who could not get public housing because he is married to a man will sue the Hong Kong government.
Nick Infinger married his husband in Canada in January. They then applied for public housing in March under the ‘ordinary family’ category in March.
But the government rejected their application in August. It told the men they did not fit the definition of ‘ordinary family’ which, only applies either a husband and wife, parent and child or grandparent and grandchild.
Through high profile lawyer Michael Vidler, Infinger filed a petition for a judicial review in the high court on Thursday (22 November), according to the SCMP.
Infinger and his husband qualify for public housing because they are Hong Kong Permanent Residents. They are also over the age of 18, they don’t own domestic properties or exceed the limits on income or assets
‘It’s easier to believe only foreigners would be gay, lesbian and transsexual. But the fact is the vast majority are permanent residents, born and bred [here],’ Vidler wrote in the petition.
Vidler is behind one of the most landmark same-sex cases in Hong Kong history. Earlier this year he successfully won a case on behalf of QT. The a married British lesbian sued the Immigration Departmen for refusing to grant her a spousal dependent visa.
The lawyer will argue the denial of public housing to the men violates the city’s mini-constitution. The mini-constitution is known as the Hong Kong Bill of Rights and the Basic Law.
‘Same-sex couples are … permanently ineligible for [housing] benefit,’ he wrote.
‘Given there is less favourable treatment along suspect lines, the burden falls upon the government, or relevant public authority, to justify the treatment.
‘It is for the government to show that the difference in treatment is reasonably necessary.’
Vidler argued the government should just change the law rather than spending public funds fighting the case in court.
‘They are not asking to be treated any different… They just want to be on the waiting list (for public housing),’ he said.
‘It is for the government to decide whether to waste public funds to fight the case or accept what our highest court has said according to rights in our Basic Law.’
The High Court petition came on the same day the Hong Kong Legislative Council voted against discussing the possibility of introducing same-sex civil unions. The city’s only openly gay legislator, Ray Chan, introduced a motion to open the floor to discussing same-sex civil unions. But legislators voted his motion down 27-24.